Outback NSW Bird WatchingAuthor: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: January 2007
Of the 131 bird species we saw in Outback NSW, 57 were endemic to Australia. Most of the74 non-Australian Endemic bird species we saw in Outback NSW were new for us. 8 species were never seen again during the 255-day trip around Australia; that is: Baillon's Crake, Red-backed Buttonquail, Flame Robin, Red-vented Blue Bonnet, Fuscous Honeyeater, Yellow Rosella, Painted Honeyeater, & Yellow-throated Miner.
On Jan 9, 2007 we left Boonah early, drove west across the Cunningham Gap for the last time, and into Outback Queensland. About 9am we turned south and drove thru the Outback of NSW to Dubbo. It was a long drive today, but in Outback Australia accommodations are hard to find.
The drive went thru huge fields of ripe hops. We could see cut wheat fields and the residue of cotton fields. Sunflowers line the border of the road. Later we started seeing large sheep herds. Sometimes there was red clay and pine trees like in Georgia, but the "pines" were actually a form of Eucalyptus trees.
Much of the drive seemed devoid of life; just miles and miles of dry, dry, and more dry! We were very surprised to find a pair of Yellow Spoonbills standing in a pond (the only water for a 100 miles). We saw where recent wild fires had burnt across the road, and saw billowing smoke in the distance.
The speed limit in the Outback is 110KMPH (70mph - even though the road was not all that great). I kept to 60mph. A sign said the fine for speeding is $3300A. We saw more police today than all the other days we have been in Australia combined -- I guess they can afford them with $3300A fines.
We ate lunch at KFC. KFC is everywhere in Australia. KFC is a major sponsor of the Australian Cricket team. The menu is totally different from the US. We were surprised they don't sell potpies, an Australian staple.
We arrived at the Dubbo Visitors Center at 4pm our time, but it was actually 5pm since NSW has Daylight Savings Time. The VC had just closed, but they still gave me some maps and birding info.
We ate at the Rose Garden Thai restaurant in downtown. My Wife had Chicken Fried Rice. I had Thai Spring Rolls and a Green Chicken Curry.
On Jan 10 we went for a leisurely 4-hour stroll along the Macquarie River Walk (32.247S 148.599E). There were dozens of Red-rumped Parrots feeding on the ground. I got a great look at a Red Wattlebird, and a pair of White-winged Choughs. We saw Fuscous Honeyeaters and Painted Honeyeaters (Lipstick Birds) for the first time.
On Jan 11 we were off at 5:30am. About 2 hours later we stopped for gas and our favorite Br -- Maxibonds! We continued driving south thru the wheat belt of Australia. All we could see was cleanly cut fields of golden stubble -- hundreds of thousands of acres. It hasn't rained out here for years.
We stopped for lunch in Oven Valley. It was 100F at Noon and expected to reach 110F in the afternoon. We arrived in Tocumwal (pronounced tuc-Um-wall, or Tuck for short) at 1:30pm. At 8pm it was still 95F. Fortunately, we had good air conditioning.
On Jan 12 we were off at 6am for Ulupna Island (35.826S 145.456E) in the Murray River. The route was thru Victoria over dirt roads. We saw a rice field full of Straw-necked Ibis standing in water.
At the island we saw a strange Rosella. While we were trying to photograph and ID it, we saw a Koala in a tree. Over the next hour we photographed 29 Koalas. Most were sleeping, some "bombed out of their head" on fermented Eucalyptus leaves. There were nine cute immature Koalas - they were usually resting in a tree fork while Mom slept on a separate limb close-by.
Back at the car we saw a Rosellas with a bright yellow chest and a red spot over the beak -- a Golden Rosellas. On the drive back to the cottage we noticed something different on what we assumed were Cockatoos. On closer examination, we saw pink streaks on their chest and a funny beak, which ID'ed them as Long-billed Correllas. Soon more were arriving, then waves of them. Finally there must have been 500 or more in a field already full of Straw-necked Ibis. Something happened and they all bolted into the air for what looked like aerial combat -- then they all disappeared.
On Jan 13 we headed off early for another island in the Murray River. We were hoping for some ducks that are supposed to be around here. All we saw were a few Australian Wood Ducks. There was not a lot of avian diversity today, but there were heaps of Red Wattlebirds, White-browed Treecreepers, and White-plumbed Honeyeaters.
The creepiest thing today was seeing a big Kangaroo get hung-up in a fence. The Kangaroo's threshing-around to escape was gut wrenching. Fortunately, it was not a barbwire fence, and the Kangaroo finally broke free.
On Jan 14 we were off at 5:45am for Deniliquin (a.k.a. Denny) -- a small town west of here that is popular with birders. It took us 2 hours to drive the 60 miles because we kept turning around to check out parrots and raptors.
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